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Film / Sleepwalkers

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An odd little 1992 film based on an unpublished book by Stephen King, Sleepwalkers follows the story of Charles Brady (Brian Krause), and his mother Mary (Alice Krige), a pair of soul sucking cat demons called Sleepwalkers. The Sleepwalkers have apparently incredible powers of illusion, but are critically weak to ordinary housecats. No, nothing is being spoiled here; they explain exactly what Sleepwalkers are in an expositional fake encyclopedia entry, in the first ten seconds of the film.

The titular Sleepwalkers move into the town of Travis, Indiana, and try to find a virgin to suck the life out of. Charles starts trying to seduce Tanya (Madchen Amick), who is apparently a virgin. Their relationship goes a little south, when he tries to suck her soul on the first date, and a police officer shows up with an attack cat named Clovis. Charles is injured, and his mother begins a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. There are a few random car chases and murders to round out the movie.

It's also notable for being Stephen King's first collaboration with director Mick Garris.


This film contains examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Mr. Fallows, the pervy Creative Writing teacher who ends up brutally killed by Charles.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Mary is introduced to Tanya, she is holding a pair of scissors dangerously close to Tanya...which she uses to cut a rose stem to place in Tanya's hair.
    • When Charles and Tanya playfully fall into the graveyard together, it seems as though they're going to consummate their growing attraction together for the first time. They kiss again...only for Charles to reveal his true self to Tanya as he attempts to start sucking her soul out.
  • Betty and Veronica: Tanya is the Betty and Mary is the Veronica to Charles's Archie. Ultimately the Veronica wins.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Clovis, and his cat army!
  • Bittersweet Ending / Downer Ending: The Sleepwalkers are dead, and Tanya and Clovis have survived the day. However, Tanya's parents are presumed dead and multiple cops have been killed during Mary's rampage.
  • Booby Trap: The Brady house is surrounded by bear traps to keep the cats at bay.
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  • Cats Are Mean: Well, cat demons are; regular cats are the heroes.
  • Cat Scare: Every possible sense of the phrase gets used at some point or another.
  • The Cavalry: Just when things look their worst, we get a shot of Clovis leading an army of cats to the Brady house in slow motion!
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Mary Brady becomes this, due to her son's crush on Tanya.
  • Competence Zone: You know you're in trouble when a movie's competence zone is restricted to cats ...
    • To be fair to the human cast, the Sleepwalkers seem to shrug off any injury not inflicted by a cat. Even a lost eye seems like an inconvenience.
  • Corrupt Hick: The state trooper, with a side of Drill Sergeant Nasty.
  • Covers Always Lie: Those sinister-looking cats swarming that house on the cover are actually the heroes of the story.
  • Creator Cameo: Stephen King has a brief role as a cemetery groundskeeper who complains about the potential bad press he'll get.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Police cruisers explode spectacularly with one shot from a handgun. Who knew? Maybe it's somehow performed with Sleepwalkers' magic, of course.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: All cats hate the Sleepwalkers and swarm to their house to threaten them.
  • Evil Teacher: Mr. Fallows, who tries to extort Charles. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Eye Scream: Tanya manages to gouge Charles' eyes on two different occasions.
  • Fingore: While pointing his finger at Mary in questioning for the recent catastrophes, the officer gets his fingers bitten off in a mouthful by Mary who then kills him by breaking his arm into a fatal compound fracture.
  • Foreshadowing: The abandoned house at the beginning of the film.
    • The "close" relationship between mother and son.
    • The many rotting corpses of dead cats hanging from a tree.
    • The mummified corpse of a young girl lying in the closet.
    • The red rose in the first (of many) victim's hair.
  • Glamour Failure: You can see the Sleepwalkers' true forms in mirrors. This, and their method of feeding, can make them a bit Our Vampires Are Different. Also, cats can see right through their illusions.
  • Humans Are Useless: While Tanya manages a lot of eye-gouging on the monsters, the only named character who actually does anything useful is Clovis the cat.
    • Well, the Sheriff that came to Tanya's rescue did try, using one of the bear traps on Mary. Not his fault he was up against a supernatural monster.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The sheriff gets body slammed on a picket fence.
    • One of the officers warning the police station over the phone gets impaled with an ear of corn into his back by Mary.
    Mary: (smiles evilly) No vegetables, no desserts. That's the rules.
  • Improvised Weapon: Mary kills a man by stabbing him with an ear of corn.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: One of the Sleepwalkers' notable abilities is to talk entirely in these during action sequences.
  • Invisibility: One of the Sleepwalkers' powers.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between the sheriff’s department and the state troopers. It is All There in the Script how Sherrif Ira and Captain Soames don't like each other for personal reasons.
  • Large Ham: The Bradys. Though his mom chews the scenery, her hamminess rubbed off on Charles.
    Charles: Stop looking at me. Stop looking at me!!! Stop looking at me, you FUCKING CAT!!!!
  • Kryptonite Factor: The Sleepwalkers. Get stabbed in the eye with a corkscrew? Barely worth noting. Get scratched enough times by ordinary house cats? Fucking explode!
  • Made of Explodium: Perhaps the best reason to see this film is for the scene where Mary bursts into flame from a cat attack.
  • Made of Iron: The Sleepwalkers can shrug off shotgun blasts and eye removal without any apparent ill effects. A house cat's claws and fangs, on the other hand, are basically kryptonite to them.
  • Mama Bear: The death toll goes way, way up after Charles is incapacitated and Mary gets angry.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: We see the Sleepwalkers in three different forms: human, human with cat-like face, and something looking as an anthropomorphic, reptilian-skinned cat. The reflection in the mirror always shows them in the third form—presumably the true form with all illusions stripped.
  • Mugging the Monster: Mr. Fallows finds out that Charles' school records are faked, and he tries to extort him, only to end up getting his hand ripped off and eventually killed by Charles.
  • Neck Snap: More like neck twist but yeah, one unfortunate cat attacking Mary gets grabbed and has its neck twisted like a towel before being thrown aside.
  • Oedipus Complex: Charles, greatly for his mother.
  • One-Winged Angel: While mirrors show their true forms, the two title characters shift to them late in the movie. Before then, they can partly shift their face to look more cat-like.
  • Parental Incest: Between the two Sleepwalkers, Mary and Charles. They are the last two of their kind though, apparently.
  • Police are Useless: It's either this or being a Corrupt Hick.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Charles gets hurt, Mary kills Tanya's parents and the town's entire police force.
  • Shout-Out: The hundreds of cats besieging the Brady house resemble The Birds more than a little.
  • The Tragic Rose: The Bradys always leave a rose placed in the hair of their virginal victims.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Sleepwalkers eat the souls of virgins to survive.
  • Tagline: See the caption under the poster above. Notable for being completely false; Sleepwalkers eat the souls of virgins, not fear.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Housecats for the Sleepwalkers.


Example of: